Bar regulator consults on reforms to the disciplinary tribunal system
In an open consultation, launched today, the bar regulator is seeking views on proposals to reform the disciplinary tribunal system.
The Disciplinary Tribunal Regulations (found at Part 5B of the BSB Handbook) set out the powers and functions of Disciplinary Tribunals who are responsible for deciding whether a barrister (or a BSB-authorised entity) has committed professional misconduct.
The Bar Standards Board’s (BSB) Professional Conduct Department has recently undertaken a review of the Disciplinary Tribunal Regulations, and produced a revised set of Regulations.
A consultation paper, summarising and explaining the proposed revisions, has been published along with the proposed revised Regulations.
Some of the proposed revisions include:
- · Modernising terminology (for example, replacing the term “defendant” with “respondent”)
- · Setting out more clearly the procedure to be followed at hearings and including robust rules for the treatment of witnesses and vulnerable witnesses
- · Reducing the Inns of Court’s role in the disciplinary system, except in relation to disbarments
- · Addressing potential gaps in the Disciplinary Tribunal powers
- · Extending, in the public interest, the regulator’s ability to appeal the outcome of disciplinary tribunals
- · Limiting the costs that can be claimed by barristers who represent themselves at Tribunals
We are also taking this opportunity to seek views on wider issues which in the longer term may result in further changes to the system. These include:
- · Introducing measures to mitigate costs to the BSB of the disciplinary system, which is otherwise funded by the practising certificate fee
- · Replacing all five-person tribunals panels with three-person panels
- · Proposing that decisions to readmit barristers disbarred for disciplinary reasons are taken by the regulator and not the Inns of Court, as is the current arrangement
We welcome a wide range responses from consumers of legal services, members of the Bar, and anyone involved in disciplinary systems.
The BSB’s Director of Professional Conduct Sara Jagger said: “Fairness, transparency and efficiency have been central to this review. We are committed to modernising and streamlining our disciplinary processes; ensuring that they operate as fairly and as efficiently as possible, for the benefit of all concerned.”
Anyone interested in contributing to the consultation should send their response to Siân Mayhew, at SMayhew@BarStandardsBoard.org.uk. Responses can also be provided by phone with prior arrangement (please call 0207 611 1444).
The BSB will also be holding a series of workshops for anyone interested in feeding back their views on the proposed changes in an open forum. The workshops, starting at 5.30pm, will be held at the BSB’s offices on:
- · Monday 21 September; and/or
- · Thursday 1 October.
To register your interest in attending one of these workshops, please contact Siân Mayhew (using the contact details above).
The consultation closes on 12 October 2015.